UCLA Anderson Essay Tips and Deadlines: 2019 – 20

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Located in Los Angeles, the UCLA Anderson School of Management stands out for its flexible curriculum and wide array of specializations. From Anderson's website, “UCLA Anderson's rigorous programs offer exceptional academic preparation, a cooperative and congenial student culture, and access to a thriving business community, as well as support services for scholastic and career advancement.”

Application Deadlines :

Round Application Deadline Decisions Released
Round 1 October 2, 2019 December 18, 2019
Round 2 January 8, 2020 March 26, 2020
Round 3 April 16, 2020 May 21, 2020

With more and more students all over the world wanting to pursue careers in management and take advantage of the school’s location in Silicon Beach, getting admitted to Anderson is more challenging than ever.  Anderson looks beyond the numbers. Famous for its 3 pillars (share success, think fearlessly, and drive change), Anderson looks for applicants who will deliver value to the community, as well as to the classroom. Anderson’s Essay prompts play a crucial role in validating your candidacy. From Anderson website, “Please note that your essays are the primary way for you to share your perspectives and plans with the Admissions Committee. The best essays are introspective, genuine and succinct in directly answering our questions and responding to our topics.”

Essays :

The UCLA Anderson School of Management has changed essay #2 for the 2019-20 application season while the first essay, the career goals essay, remains unchanged from last year. First-time applicants must respond to the short answer questions (2) and essay # 2. They can also submit a brief 250-words optional essay, but no preference is given to candidates who submit an optional essay. The re-applicants are required to address a separate question detailing improvement in their candidacies.

Here is MER’s analysis of Anderson’s essays:

Short Answer Questions:

Essay a)

Tell us about your MBA goals AND why you are applying to UCLA Anderson now:

Describe your short term and long-term goals (150 words maximum)

Why is UCLA Anderson a good school for you? (150 words maximum)

This is a straightforward goals essay question. Applicants are asked about their immediate post MBA goals and long-term goals and how Anderson MBA will bring them closer to their goals. Anderson has reduced the word limit from 500 to 300 words this year. Keeping Anderson’s motto in mind, “ We share success, We think fearlessly, We drive change ”, familiarize yourself with values cherished by Anderson and showcase how these very values have shaped your career till now and will help you reach your goals in future. While there may be evidence of these qualities throughout your application, this essay question is an excellent opportunity to communicate how you fit into the Anderson community.

You begin this essay with a statement about your post MBA career objectives. Explain what you plan to do after your MBA. Be as specific as you can about your goals and specify the industry, your role, and the companies that interest you. Discuss your short term and long -term goals. To demonstrate how your professional experiences till now align with these goals, provide a brief career history focusing on your career progression and the skills and knowledge you acquired at each job position. Given the stringent word limit (150 words), you will have space to write only 1-2 sentences about your professional experience  that is directly related to  your career objectives.

To answer the second part of the question, explain how an MBA from Anderson will bridge the gap between your current skills set and your post-MBA goals .All schools expect you to not only to have a clear sense of your goals but also its connection to their offerings. So you should demonstrate your thorough knowledge of the school’s curriculum, faculty, special programs, and extracurricular activities and explain how you will use them to achieve your professional and personal goals. Also, please mention how your interactions with UCLA’s alumni and students have offered you valuable insights into the school's culture and offerings. Describe why you believe that an MBA from Anderson is the next logical step to fill the gaps in your career and bring you closer to the fulfilment of your goals?

If space permits, you may wrap up your essay by adding a sentence about how you plan to contribute to the Anderson community by immersing in its culture of sharing success, thinking fearlessly, and driving positive change.

Essay b)

At Anderson, we believe our students are engaged, courageous, humble, and open. Describe a time when you demonstrated one of these traits in your personal life. (250 words max)

This is a new question for 2019-20 applicants. The response to this essay prompt will reveal your behavioral side. To brainstorm ideas/ stories for this essay, you can make a list of 4-5 experiences, personal or professional, reflect on your actions in each of those events/ experiences to figure out the challenges  you faced demonstrating one or more of the qualities mentioned  in the essay prompt. It could be a challenge faced with courage while doing community service or accepting failure with humility. Then choose an experience where one of the traits listed in the essay prompt comes to the fore. The experience/story chosen by you can illustrate your involvement in any field like sports, community service or participation in clubs. It should be a captivating story in sync with Anderson’s core values. For instance, you could talk about the challenge faced as a president of a community service club where you were required to raise funds for the flood victims. You may highlight the process of ‘engaging’ yourself with the club members, meeting the target and the lessons learned in the process.

Lastly, for organizing your ideas, as always, we suggest following the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). To meet the stringent word limit ,make sure to make every word count.

Essay c)  (same for both new applicants and applicants)

Optional: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware. (250 words maximum)

As directed in the essay prompt, you should use this essay to address a weakness in your profile (low GPA or GMAT, choice of the recommender, employment gap, academic gap, academic probation, lack of growth at work, etc.) Explain your situation clearly and concisely without making excuses. You may not use this essay to provide additional information. Please note that the admission committee asks you to submit this essay only if you need to.

Your response should be brief without making any excuses. Your weakness may also bring out a positive aspect of your personality. For example, if you are discussing your employment gap, you may explain that you did something productive during that period, such as traveling, volunteering or handling a family medical emergency.

Re-Applicant Essay

Re-applicants are those who submitted a completed MBA application within the previous two application years. If you applied three years or more prior, then please answer the “New Applicant” questions.

  1. Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include information on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (500 words maximum)

This is a straightforward re-applicant essay. Through this question, the Ad Com would like to know that your need for the UCLA Anderson MBA is as strong as it was last time. Hence you should demonstrate your continued interest in UCLA by explaining how you have enhanced your application since you applied last time.  You may answer this by focusing on the areas you have improved upon since you applied last. Whether you have taken extra classes, boosted your GMAT score, received a promotion, led a new and exciting project, increased your community involvement, or taken on a personal challenge, the key here is to demonstrate that you are now a better and a stronger candidate since your last application. Your conscious efforts to strengthen your profile and to work on your weak areas will prove how determined you are about your UCLA MBA.

The school also asks re-applicants to comment on ways they have refined their career goals and to highlight the additional research they have done into the UCLA MBA program over the past year. You may mention any meetings you have had with alumni/ professors/ad com or any information session you have attended. Since you are allowed 500 words, you can provide a detailed account of enhancements in your resume and additional steps you have taken to learn more about the school and your 'fit' with the school’s culture.

Lastly, and most importantly, you should use the feedback you received from the school on your previous application and focus specifically on those areas e.g. clarity of goals and improved essays with clarity of message.                            

For further assistance in developing your application essays, you may review the general Essay Tips.

For essay analysis of other schools by MER, click here.

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs including Columbia Business School. (Poonam is  one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

Click below for the Interview links of successful Anderson applicants who worked with MER:

  1. Eduardo- UCLA, Yale and Haas Kellogg admit
  2. Dennis- UCLA and Haas admit
  3. Saurav- UCLA and Kellogg admit

You may e-mail Poonam at poonam@myessayreview.com with questions about your UCLA application.

This article was first published in myEssayReview blog.

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